There was a rhythm to the sting operation that had as much to do with the temperature as the logistics of pulling it off.
Harry “Bud” Jacknow, bundled up against the cold, attempted to cross Madison over and over again as police officers flagged down the motorists who would be ticketed for failing to yield. When a handful of suspected culprits had been snared, Jacknow and the police retreated into their own idling cars or nearby storefronts to warm up.
For some two hours Friday, Jacknow and five Forest Park officers worked to get word out that pedestrians in the village have the right of way when they’re standing in a crosswalk. The weekend enforcement effort made good on a promise from Police Chief Jim Ryan to target motorists who contribute to a sometimes dangerous dance that occurs on the busy roadway. Since 2004, at least a dozen pedestrians have been struck on Madison, according to police statistics, including a fatal hit-and-run in January 2007.
Failing to yield to a pedestrian who is in a crosswalk is a violation of a local ordinance. The infraction does not count against a driver’s state record, but a fine can be levied. In addition to the sting on Friday, Dec. 5, police were also scheduled to conduct a similar operation on Saturday.
“This is something I feel very strongly about,” Jacknow said while serving as the police department’s decoy. “I don’t mind that it’s 15 degrees.”
On several occasions, Jacknow has implored the police department to make Madison safer for pedestrians. Recently, the police chief discussed the issue with the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and Development and agreed that the holiday shopping season is an ideal time to increase enforcement. The business community is partially dependent on Forest Park being pedestrian friendly, and village officials have worked to that end. The roadway has seen a number of improvements with an emphasis on safety, including stamped and painted crosswalks, additional signage and a raised crosswalk at Constitution Court.
On Dec. 5, a few hours before Madison would be flooded with onlookers for the annual Holiday Walk, Jacknow was attempting to cross the street near Beloit. Eastbound drivers who did not yield were directed into the parking lot at Constitution Court.
Jesse Sosa has lived on Madison for 22 years and was waiting to catch a bus near Constitution Court on Friday as police were conducting their first sting. He flatly declared that he doesn’t trust cars to stop when he’s trying to cross and is hopeful the enforcement will make a difference.
“That’s good because the word will pass throughout the community,” Sosa said.
During the Dec. 5 effort, 13 citations were issued to drivers for failing to yield, according to police. The following day, 21 tickets were written.